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I’ve been asked where the Seattle teachers’ union, the Seattle Education Association (SEA), stands on issues that I write about.
Well, they took a stand on the SBAC.
This resolution was passed on March 9, 2015.
Whereas in order for a standardized test to give meaningful information, it must first be administered to a normed sample group and proven to have reliability and validity; and in 2014-2015 reliability and validity of scores for the Smart Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test have not yet been established; yet Washington is planning to use the results as a baseline in their state accountability systems; and,
Whereas a statement on the SBAC website in Olympia, WA in November 2014 indicates that the SBAC is designed so that almost 7 in 10 eighth graders, and 6 in 10 third graders, are expected to fail to reach the arbitrary “goal” set by the test-makers; and,
Whereas the 2014 WEA Representative Assembly and the NEA RA passed six action items relating to objections to the use of standardized testing; and,
Whereas Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School Senate, made up of faculty, parents, administration, and students, recently announced that they had decided not to administer the SBAC to their juniors this spring for reasons including: the test will not benefit the juniors, it is not valid assessment strategy, it will produce unreliable outcomes, and it is not required for graduation; and,
Whereas at the Oregon Education Association Representative Assembly (OEA-RA), members of the Oregon Education Association (OEA) passed a resolution in April 2014 calling for a moratorium on the SBAC; and,
Whereas the Portland Teachers Association representative assembly recently passed a resolution calling for their members to speak out about the excessive time they spend on testing and preparing for tests, and to become involved with parent groups to educate the public about opting out; and,
Whereas the Obama Administration awarded PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) a combined $360 million to develop the new standardized tests aligned to the CCSS instead of dedicating said funds to provide the much needed support for our most disadvantaged students in the form of smaller class sizes, well-rounded curriculum for all schools, increasing funding to ESL and Special Education programs, hiring social workers, counselors and support staff, funding school libraries and extracurricular programs; and,
Whereas Smarter Balanced tests constitute a mandate upon our professional practice which cannot be implemented without negatively impacting the academic health of our students, forcing teachers to violate best-practice assessment strategies and methods, distorting best-practice teaching and curriculum, and damaging efforts to promote equity and opportunity for all our students; and
Whereas Seattle teachers cannot academically or in good conscience implement the new, unproven Smarter Balanced assessments at this time, but may instead continue to administer the Measures of Student Progress (MSP) and High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) to meet state and federal accountability measures; and
Whereas the State of Washington has consistently underfunded public education, while more than $200 million from the state’s General Fund (not including the costs to individual school districts) will be spent on implementation this year of a test that will be neither valid nor reliable, and is an expensive experiment to norm SBAC on students without their or their families’ consent.
Therefore be it resolved that the SEA provide information and resources to support its members and parents to hold parent informational sessions about the SBAC and the impact of testing, including sending SEA members an FAQ letter with the WHEREAS’s above; and,
Be it further resolved that the SEA organize and host at least two regional (one on north end, one on south end) “SBAC parent/teacher practice sessions” where parents and staff take the practice SBAC and videotape testimonials about their experiences which will be posted on SEA website; and,
Be it further resolved that the SEA send a letter stating SEA supports Seattle School District School Board draft resolution No. 2014/15-19 that calls for the suspension of the SBAC; stating, the suspension of SBAC, we argue, will give time to allow our members to instead focus on providing equitable, engaging and in-depth educational opportunities for all students, consistent with the mission of the Seattle Education Association, School Board and District; and send a letter to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction requesting he also consider the suspension of the Smarter Balanced assessments at this time, for the reasons stated above.
I have been asked why there is not a link to the Resolution. Answer is that the SEA leadership has chosen NOT to post it on their website. This resolution was driven by union members, not the leadership.
The information I received was from teachers who were at the meeting when it was voted on. Ask any teacher who was at the meeting if you need additional confirmation.